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Ethiopians for Obama

By Teddy Fikre

There is something powerful occurring in the Ethiopian-American community. People who were never inspired to take part in the political process are realizing that the we have a duty as citizens to partake in the political process and be a part of the change that is taking place. While they will always love the land of their birth, they realize that they are deeply engrained in United States and are vested in the direction of this great country. Never before has a politician inspired so many people from so many backgrounds and countries to unite for our common purposes.Senator Obama speaks about the power of one–the power that a sole individual has to change their community and eventually change the world.

Throughout history, we have witnessed time and again how one person has been able to change the trajectory of a nation and of the world. What we are witnessing now is the same dynamic, and Ethiopians for Obama have taken on this mantle and decided that the way to seek change is to organize and participate in the political process.

What started off with Maeza Siraj over a year ago when she created Ethiopians for Obama on barackobama.com has blossomed into thousands of Ethiopian-Americans working in multiple states to be a part of a historical moment. Ethiopians for Obama has some of the most amazing and talented Ethiopians working together for a common purpose. This is not a top-down organization where anointed leaders send out directives nor is it a centralized group. It is a decentralized group that believes in the leadership of each member instead of depending on the leadership of any one individual.

They follow closely the unbelievable model inspired by Senator Obama when he was a community organizer and has emulated for his campaign. Obama believes in the inherent power of people, that each person has the ability to do amazing things if the opportunity is presented. Thus, Ethiopians for Obama is a collection of talented Ethiopian-Americans from California, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Washington DC, Minnesota and states in every corner of the United States who communicate regularly and implement ideas that can further galvanized the Ethiopian-American community around the Obama message of hope and change. Moreover, Ethiopians for Obama is a diverse group that work together based on interests that are common to all and do not dwell in the differences that have divided for too long. The aim is unity of purpose for the benefit of all—a unity that bridges the chasms of ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

Ethiopians for Obama has conducted a targeted phone-banking effort in the states of Indiana and Pennsylvania. By relying on the vast volunteer base and a simple tool such as the white pages, they were able to collect hundreds of phone numbers based on common last names of Ethiopian-Americans who live in those states and makes calls on behalf of Senator Obama. One is at a loss to explain the joy that the receiving party felt when they heard their fellow Ethiopians calling to ask them to participate in the political process. There was an overwhelming level of support for Senator Obama from those who were called and a lot of folks who otherwise did not consider voting were motivated to vote as a result of the calls they received. This is how change happens, the power of one to inspire another.

Ethiopians for Obama has also traveled to multiple states to volunteer directly for the Obama campaign. Dynamic leaders such as Emebet Bekele, Yohannes Assafa, Lulit Mesfin, Mike Endale, Bizu Hodge and Jim Tufa to name a few, are constantly reaching out to their fellow Ethiopians to encourage them to be involved in the political process while they continue to do the hard work of making phone calls and traveling to different states. They realize that debating and hoping for change is not enough; while there are countless Ethiopians who have and continue to be involved politically and work selflessly to ensure our collective interests, their effort is only as successful as the people who are behind any initiative.

Ethiopians for Obama is growing by the day. The first road-trip to Ohio organized by Ethiopians for Obama was attended by three supporters and the second trip to Philadelphia was attended by six supporters. The most recent trip to North Carolina was attended by nine while those who could not make the trip stayed behind and made hundreds of phone calls over the weekend to Ethiopian-Americans in Indiana. On May 6th, Ethiopians for Obama held a victory party in Washington, DC; over 45 people showed up to support Sena tor Obama on a historic night. The power of one—this is how change happens, one person inspires a friend, that friend inspires a sister, that sister inspires a mother, that mother inspires a husband. Before you know it, what started as one over a year ago will grow into thousands of Ethiopian-Americans who are determined to be the change we all have been waiting for.

To join Ethiopians for Obama, click on: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ethiopiansforobama/

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Lidet
    May 10, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I was wondering if there is any Ethiopian out there who is campaining for Macain.Let me know.Becauase I’m suporting him too.

  2. Juru
    May 11, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Someone can explain to me what he stands for except his hope message and his usual libral agenda? I would like to support him just because he’s black and he’s a good inspriation to many out there who thinks that it’s impossibel to reach in the higher office of the land.

    He’s running just like a typical white politician and i never ever heard him talking about issues important to minority and blacks. I hate to say this but, I won’t be suprised if he cut aids to Africa and cut programs to help the poor.

  3. Hareg
    May 20, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I am yet to be convinced. Please don’t attempt to take part on this. It will be by him and by him only, why he gets my vote. I love this process because it is indeed a democratic one. In saying so, I could leverage on what the candidate has to offer instead of jumping into the fastest, the coolest, the prettiest etc……….wagon that happens to be passing by. I feel redeemed. Why? Because since I first crossed Atlantic, leaving my beloved homeland behind, besides getting all kinds of economical, educational, etc….enlightenment, for the first time, I feel that my saying on this really matters! I am able to vote now, and I am realizing my vote counts and it matters.
    I see this frenzy “Ethiopians Obama” campaign. Here is the challenge for those of you who is running with this slogan. Do you really mean this? Do you say this as a concerned dual citizen or is there anything else going behind this? What are the issues that we are supporting Senator Obama for? Do we know them? Shouldn’t we? I mean this is the talk of the Ethiopian community and I totally love the enthuse that is flowing in everyone’s blood. Last week I was invited at “Melese” after Serege event, and apparently this question was going around the table. Because of schedule conflicts I arrived late and a few minutes later the question was like a bombshell? Who do you vote for?
    Hummm……who do I vote for, “no body!” I saw faces dropping like a fly and, the reply was multiple “why?” I hold my breath and waited. Instead of directly replying to the question, I said, why are you voting for him? I was generally pointing to people’s direction, and no one said anything. Instead they were looking at each other. I thought so I said this inaudibly not to engage in unnecessary and or unending debate and continued with a little shyly the fact that I busted everyone’s bubble. I said, well, I am not saying I don’t vote for him. I am looking. I am listening to what he is capable of. I would definitely don’t vote to McCain, not because he is Republican. I lean towards what the candidate has to say rather than party adherence, I don’t want to have that kind of “party” discipline because I simply believe that if we want “Progressive Democracy” we should look into what the candidates have to offer, and as an immigrant, as a first generation of immigrants, which makes us double minority, we should be very careful.
    I have a feeling that most of our people are voting for his background and or skin color rather than his political stance. Which, I will not say a good or bad reason. It is their absolute right to go in that route. But this is a historical turning point and we need more than the “change” speech that I have heard so far. We need a president not only that have to work hard to bring both the house and the senate together and also to bring the nation together, and further that creates a solid, a true ally within the international community. This is not to further US agenda, but to further the third world countries’ agenda and to protect the interest of poor people and to address their country’s need, such as our own beloved Ethiopia. We need a president who makes it his/her business to be more inclusive and have third world countries have their saying, in the making of the global economy. We need a president that sees Africa, Ethiopia as a strategic ally that can and should contribute if given a chance, not threaten to increase or decrease aid based on how “doggy” the ruling government is.

    If these are the stance why not Senator Obama is an honorable man and he deserves all the support he could get and need to be given a chance. But this chance should not to encounter the preceding presidents that reside over the Whitehouse whether they earned it or by virtue of their being a white person.

    Peace be with us all!

  4. May 22, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Nice !

  5. Teddy
    May 24, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Ruth,

    As a member of Ethiopians for Obama, let me answer the many doubts that you have about our effort and about Senator Obama. First and foremost, please give us more credit than assuming that we are jumping on a bandwagon. Isn’t it possible that maybe we are supporting Obama because we agree with his principles? Isn’t it possible that we have thought through our position instead of being impressionable minds who believe anything? I support Senator Obama because he stands for change. Now before you go on to attack my position as one borne of simplicity and belief in platitudes, let me go further in depth about what that change represents.

    Throughout history, the one constant that nurtures the advancement of mankind and feeds the desires of growth is change. When we find ourselves stuck in the rut of despair, we seek change not as a platitude but as a cure for our ails. After 8 years of a Bush economy and 8 years of a Bush foreign policy disaster; we are desperate for change–82% of Americans feel the same desire. However, one cannot seek change for the sake of change, so let me delve further into the change that Obama offers. In the arena of foreign policy, Senator Obama offers the change of the unilateral and neoconic mindset that has created one of the most tragic foreign policy blunders in American history. Senator Obama offers the change of engaging countries throughout the world; not fearful of talking to our adversaries and communicating strength through the megaphone of diplomacy. Senator Obama offers the change where we reward hard working Americans by investing in education, targeted tax cuts, and health care instead of an economic agenda that Bush has instituted that has furthered the gap between the wealthy and the middle class. Senator Obama offers the change where we can move past the ideological battles that have been the norm since the 1960s and enter a new era where varying political views are not denigrated but respected. Most importantly, Senator Obama believes in empowering people like you and me.

    That is what Ethiopians for Obama is about, most of us have NEVER been involved politically. It took a man whose roots are embedded in community organization to inspire me and countless others to believe that politics can equal hope. So this is more than about Obama, it is about us. What is it that we can do for ourselves, what is it that we can do to unite. We can continue to bicker and complain about our circumstances or we can get involved politically and seek the change that 82% of Americans desperately want. So we are not supporting him because he is black, we are not supporting him because of his rock-star status, we are not supporting him because he has a cool name, we are supporting him because he is right.

    So my suggestion to you is to start with one–you. It is easy to ask others why they support him, but I challenge you to do some research and figure out who you support instead of offering intellectual arguments of who you don’t. There are countless ways one can find out about his positions with respect to foreign policy, domestic policy, economic policy and so forth, so I challenge you to research and see if Senator Obama’s message fit your views. If they do, we look forward to you joining Ethiopians for Obama. If they don’t, I hope that you find a candidate that you will eventually support. Regardless of your decision, I will and continue to respect your views–I hope that you do the same of mine.

  6. January 15, 2009 at 1:13 am

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  1. May 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm
  2. May 13, 2008 at 6:48 pm

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